Stem Cell Research

Adult stem cellsI haven’t been reporting on stem cell research lately, but there has continued to be a flurry of advances in the field.  None of them, however, involve embryonic stem cell research.  All of them involve adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells (adult cells reprogrammed back to an embryonic state). 

The latest advance was announced earlier this month.  Scientists extracted stem cells from a two year old girl’s bone marrow and created a new windpipe with it in less than a week.  Growing one organ from the cells of another body part is truly astonishing work!  

Here are some other recent medical advances in non-embryonic stem cell research that I have not reported on: 


Adult stem cell research has been booming.  There are so many advances that it is hard to keep up.  Just recently researchers were able to take adult human skin cells, convert them back to an embryonic state, and then with a string of chemical cocktails convert them into heart cells that were capable of being transplanted into rats.  While not yet ready for human trials, this is a major milestone that may one day give real hope to those who have suffered heart attacks.


HT: Wesley J. Smith

Justice Lamberth

Last summer I informed you that Justice Lamberth ruled Obama’s embryonic stem cell policy illegal, arguing that it violated the Dickey-Wicker amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds for destructive embryo research.  Lamberth slapped a preliminary injunction on the policy, suspending all use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research.  Shortly after, an appeals court lifted the injunction while they were considering the appeal against Lamberth’s decision.  On April 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington finally ruled against Lamberth’s interpretation of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, 2-1.  President Obama’s policy stands.

A faster, safer, more productive method has been discovered for turning adult stem cells into an embryonic-like state (induced pluripotent stem cells).

Catching up on the news….

Last year (March 9, 20010) President Obama signed an Executive Order overturning President Bush’s stem cell policy that allowed federal funding for stem cell research on stem cell lines created prior to August 9, 2001, but not after.  President Obama wished to expand federal funding to include stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001.

Ironically, two days after issuing his EO, President Obama signed into law the annual appropriations bill which included the Dickey-Wicker amendment.  This amendment, which has appeared in every appropriations bill since 1996, specifically prohibits the use of federal funds for research that involves the destruction of human embryos.  The amendment reads:


In May of this year Gallup polled Americans to determine what behaviors they found morally acceptable and unacceptable.  Sixteen behaviors were evaluated, and here are the results:


Investors Business Daily has an article on California’s Proposition 71 that passed five years ago, which secured $3,000,000,000 dollars for embryonic stem cell research.  They note how the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was created by the proposition and oversees the distribution of the research money, has shifted its focus to adult stem cell research.  Why?  Because ESCR is not panning out to be the promising research the supporters of prop 71 promised it would be.  While this is good, they note how it appears to be a bait-and-switch: 

To us, this is a classic bait-and-switch, an attempt to snatch success from the jaws of failure and take credit for discoveries and advances achieved by research Prop. 71 supporters once cavalierly dismissed. We have noted how over the years that when funding was needed, the phrase ‘embryonic stem cells’ was used. When actual progress was discussed, the word ‘embryonic’ was dropped because ESCR never got out of the lab.

They conclude by noting that “it is ESCR researchers who have politicized science and stood in the way of real progress. We are pleased to see California researchers beginning to put science in its rightful place.”

HT: Wesley Smith

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